During its annual meeting in December, The National Caucus of Black State Legislators (NCBSL) called on the Bush administration and the U.S. Congress to recognize the important role that debt cancellation plays in African development.
If global development priorities are not reassessed to account for massive urban poverty, well over half of the 1.1 billion people projected to join the world’s population between now and 2030 may live in under-serviced slums, according to State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future, released today by the Worldwatch Institute. Additionally, while cities cover only 0.4 percent of the Earth’s surface, they generate the bulk of the world’s carbon emissions, making cities key to alleviating the climate crisis, notes the report.
The key to understanding why Grameen Bank founder and CEO Muhammad Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize lies in the current fascination with individualistic myths of wealth and poverty. Many policy-makers believe that poverty is "simply" a problem of individual behavior. By rejecting the notion that poverty has structural causes, they deny the need for collective responses. In fact, according to this tough-love view, broad-based civic commitments to increase employment or provide income supports only make matters worse: helping the poor is pernicious because such aid undermines the incentive for hard work. This ideology is part and parcel of neoliberalism.
While economists laud the recently deceased Milton Friedman for being “a champion of freedom whose work transformed economics and changed the world,” as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times put it, people in the South will remember the University of Chicago professor as the eye of a human hurricane that cut a swath of destruction through their economies. For them, Friedman will long be associated with two things: free-market reform in Chile and “structural adjustment” in the developing world.
The popular backlash to the Washington Consensus (an agenda of enforced open market policies) has been witnessed in protest marches and anti-globalisation campaigns for quite some time. This revolutionary mood, the authors argue, has been hijacked by the influencial, articulate voices of Jeffrey Sachs and Thomas Friedman. This article presents a critique of these two figures' work, and warns of the risks their policy prescriptions entail.